Caspar Berger

Skeleton / Self-portrait 20

Power and value of the relic
The veneration of relics has a rich history in both religious and non-religious contexts. It is always the question of where the power of the relic lies. Is it in the material? Or is it the worshipper (the viewer) who attibutes the intrinsic power to the object? In other words, does the value held by the object or artwork not only present itself in the mind of the viewer?

Personal and collective value
Normally, the relic itself does not represent much material value. It is mainly in the reliquary, the container that holds the body part, the shrine, often richly adorned and made of precious materials. In Skeleton / Self-portrait 20 I reversed this: the relic (the humerus) is of pure gold, an exact copy of my upper right arm bone that was fabricated using a high-tech CT scanner.

By using three pounds of gold, a material to which great value has been assigned by the collective, I argue the question of where the value is now. Is this relic still about personal value or is it overshadowed by a system of collective value assignment?